STRATFORD, Conn. — Last fall, Lordship Elementary School was awarded a $5,000 Lowe's Toolbox Educational grant for a grassroots project to improve the school and community.
Reading specialist Patricia Hines took the initiative to complete the grant application and build an outdoor classroom.
“We have such an awesome school community here at Lordship. I like to think of us as a family. The fact that we had parents (through the guidance of Patty Starkey) already create our beautiful garden was an impetuous for extending this area into a true outdoor classroom.” Hines said.
“Developing assets — the building blocks that help make children successful in life — was another reason for creating this outdoor learning lab. Our goal is to have students help in the development of this great resource.”
The outdoor classroom complements the community garden that was created by students, staff and parents in 2012.
It serves as a great extension of the garden where students can have hand-on experiences observing, exploring and researching natural occurrences, such as weather patterns and vegetation, Hines said.
One of the school's most exciting projects was learning about the plight of the monarch butterfly and creating a stopping place for them on their migratory journey. Thanks to the efforts of Jennifer Silberger, a Lordship School parent, the butterfly garden is now on the Monarch Waystation Registry as a migration stop, Hines said.
Teachers have used the space for science, reading and math activities. This fall students harvested the garden and are prepping it for the winter.
The school hopes to add an updated weather lab and benches.
“We appreciate all the volunteers who helped make this happen, especially the Silberger family, who went above and beyond to make this project happen.” added Hines.
The project has garnered positive feedback and support from the Lordship School community. While work continued on it over the summer, many neighbors visited and said how pleased they were with the new design.
This endeavor would not have happened without the support of many parents, staff, students and community members.
Hines gave a special thank you to the original sign artist, Karen Tomsheck, for renovating and repainting the school sign to look as fresh and new as the outdoor learning space.